British - King of Britain. Son of Uther Pendragon and Igraine. Brother of Blasine, Belisent and Hermisent. Brother of Gormant, Igraine and Urganda, in some accounts. Husband of Guinevere. Father of Adeluf, Amr, Arthur, Borre, Ellen, Gwydre, Gyneth, Huncamunca, Ilinot, Llacheu, Loholt, Melora, Morgan the Black, Patrick the Red and Rowland. Father of Mordred, some say. The ancestry of Arthur and Igraine is variously portrayed by early authors but the usual version says that Uther gained access to Igraine, the wife of Gorlois, in the form of Gorlois, thanks to the magic of Merlin, and fathered the infant Arthur (and in some stories, a daughter, Anna) on Igraine. Another version says that the baby was brought in by the sea and found by Merlin and Bleys. Some say he spent his boyhood with Ector, his foster-father and father of Kay, not knowing who his real father was; others say that he was reared by the magician Merlin. At the assembly to decide on a successor to Uther Pendragon, his feat of pulling the sword from the stone (and in some versions, an anvil) in which it was set, marked him as the future king of Britain. This sword, which some say was Excalibur, had been set in place by Merlin. When it later broke in combat, Merlin promised another and better sword. Arthur became king at the age of fifteen but the barons took advantage of Uther's death and Arthur's youth to carve up the kingdom amongst themselves. When he was older, he tried to subdue the barons but lacked the necessary forces. He sent Ulfius and Brastias to the Continent where they enlisted the help of King Bors of Gaul and King Ban of Benwick (Bayonne) who brought an army of 10,000 to reinforce Arthur's 20,000 men and together they defeated the 50,000 men of the North in the bloody Battle of Bedgrayne. Arthur became a great warrior, reputedly killing 470 (or 960) Saxons at the Battle of Mount Badon. He took his army to help King Leodegrance against King Royns and fell in love with Guinevere, the daughter of Leodegrance. He killed the giant Retho in single combat on Mount Snowdon. Retho had sewn the beards of all those he had killed into his cloak; Arthur used Retho's beard to make his own cloak. In a joust with Pellimore, Arthur was defeated and his life was saved only by the intervention of Merlin, who put Pellimore into a trance. Arthur's sword was broken in this encounter and it was then, in some stories, that Merlin provided Excalibur as a replacement. They rowed into the middle of a lake where a hand, clutching the sword Excalibur, rose out of the water. While Arthur wore the scabbard he could never lose blood, no matter how badly he was wounded. The sword itself was said to be capable of remarkable feats. Having defeated the Saxons, Scots and Picts, he conquered Ireland, Iceland, Norway and Denmark. When the Roman emperor demanded taxes, he led an army into Brittany. Here he killed the giant of Mont St Michel who had carried off Helen, daughter of his friend Hoel, king of Brittany. He then marched on Rome, defeated their army and killed their leader, Lucius. In some accounts he returned to Britain and was not troubled further by the Romans. In other accounts he conquered Rome itself, killed Frollo in single combat, forced Leo to abdicate and was himself crowned as emperor. He left Kay in charge of Anjou and Bedivere in charge of Normandy. He dug up the buried head of Bran, relying on his own ability to protect the kingdom rather than on the superstitious belief in the power of a long-dead king. He was said also to have dug up the head of Adam near Jerusalem. He once made a journey to Annwfn, the underworld, to get a magic cauldron. This story is told by Taliesin in the poem The Spoils of Annwfn. He was once entrapped by the sorceress Annowre, and only the timely intervention of Lancelot saved him from death at her hands. A similar story is told of Camille. In some Spanish accounts he was imprisoned by the king of Constantinople, who released him when Arthur's sister, Urganda, intervened. Merlin told Arthur that a child born on May Day would cause his death, so Arthur ordered that all the children born on that day should be put into a boat and cast adrift. The ship was wrecked in a storm and the only one to survive was Mordred, the boy fathered by Arthur with his sister, Morgause. He married Guinevere but she loved Lancelot and was unfaithful to her husband, although they were later reconciled. At his wedding feast, the proceedings were interrupted by a white stag, which was chased into the hall by a white bitch and a pack of black hounds. One of his knights seized the bitch and rode away with it. A lady rode in and complained that he had stolen her bitch and a knight then rode in and dragged the woman away. Arthur sent Gawain to find the stag, Torre to find the knight who had taken the bitch and Pellimore to find the lady and the knight who had taken her off. Once when he was hunting with Urien and Accolan, they saw a ship on a lake come into the shore and they went aboard. They were bewitched by Morgan le Fay; Urien found himself back with his wife, Accolan on the edge of a deep void and Arthur in prison. He was duped into fighting with Accolan who was using the sword Excalibur, which had been stolen by Morgan and given to Accolan as part of her plan to destroy Arthur, kill Urien and marry Accolan who would take over the king's throne. After a great fight, Arthur felled Accolan, reclaimed his own sword and forgave his opponent, who died of his wounds a few days later . Shortly after his return to Camelot, a damsel arrived with a jewelled mantle, a gift to Arthur from Morgan. On the advice of Nimue Arthur told the girl to try it on. She did so reluctantly and dropped dead, shrivelled to a cinder. While the king was recovering from his wounds, Morgan tried once again to steal Excalibur but got away only with the magic scabbard, which she threw into a lake. Arthur and Outlake pursued her but she and her men escaped when she turned them all into stones until their pursuers had given up the chase. He helped Culhwch to meet the conditions laid down by the giant Ysbaddaden before he would allow his daughter, Olwen, to marry Culhwch. During this quest, Arthur killed the Black Witch with his knife Carnwennan. On one occasion, Melwas, the king of Summer Land, abducted Guinevere but Arthur invaded the country and forced the king to release her. When Agravain and Mordred told the king of his wife's affair with Lancelot Arthur said that he would believe them only when they could produce proof. Mordred caught the two lovers together in her room and told the king who condemned Guinevere to the stake, ordering Gawain to carry out the execution. Gawain refused but his younger brothers, Gaheris and Gareth, obeyed. They were both killed by Lancelot when he rode in and rescued the queen, carrying her off to Joyous Gard. Arthur raised an army to assault the castle and a fierce battle ended only when the Pope intervened to order that Guinevere be handed back to her husband. Lancelot returned to his home in Brittany, taking many of his followers, but Arthur's army of 60,000 men invaded France and laid siege to Bayonne where Lancelot had his court. The king would have accepted a truce with Lancelot but Gawain, who hated Lancelot because he had killed his two brothers when rescuing Guinevere, pressed Arthur to continue the war. News that Mordred, who had been left in charge of the country during the king's absence, had usurped the throne caused Arthur to break off the engagement and hurry back to Britain. After several battles in which many thousands were killed on each side, Arthur met Mordred in single combat during the Battle of Camlan and killed him but was himself badly wounded in the fight. Lucan and Bedivere moved him to a nearby chapel but Lucan died from his wounds soon after. The king ordered Bedivere to throw Excalibur into the lake, which he did only after twice disobeying the king's orders. A hand came out of the water to receive the sword and carry it down into the depths. Bedivere then carried Arthur to the edge of the lake and placed him in the boat that was waiting to receive the king and carry him to Avalon. The king sailed off, attended by Morgan le Fay, the Queen of Northgales, the Queen of the Waste Land and, in some stories, Nimue. Some say that he still lives, renewing his youth by visiting the Holy Grail; some say he is sleeping on the mountain Y-Wyddea or in a cave awaiting recall when Britain is in need of him. The site of the cave is variously given as Alderley Edge, Cadbury, Craig-y-Dinas, Mount Etna, Ogof Lanciau Eryri, Ogo'r Dinas, Richmond Castle and Sewingshields. A dolmen in Trebuerden in Brittany is said to be the king's tomb. Others maintain that he was turned into a bird such as a raven. His soul is said to be housed in a glass castle or, in some stories, embodied in the chough, the puffin or the raven. In the Welsh version, Arthur was killed by arrows in Snowdonia while pursuing the forces he had defeated at the Battle of Tregalen. His killer was said to be Eda Elyn Mawr. In Continental lore, Arthur went to Fairyland after his death. When Oberon handed the kingdom to Huon, Arthur, who had expected to receive the throne, objected. Oberon threatened to turn him into a werewolf, whereupon Arthur accepted the position. Other stories say that Arthur was in love with Oberon's daughter, Gloriana. In some accounts he is equated with Charlemagne. At times, identified as Arthur, King Arthur, King Arthur, Wart, The or Wart, The.
Irish - Son of Arthur, king of Britain. He went to Ireland in search of adventure, taking twenty-eight warriors with him. They stole Finn mac Cool's hounds, Bran and Sceolan, and took them to Scotland. A party of Fianna warriors under Goll mac Morna surprised them in camp at night and killed all twenty-eight men and took Arthur prisoner. Arthur became a loyal follower of Finn. Sometimes referred to as Arthur, King Arthur, King Arthur, Wart, The or Wart, The.
English - A play by the English playright R. L. Binyon, published in 1923. In some accounts, known as Arthur, King Arthur, King Arthur, Wart, The or Wart, The.

Nearby Myths